Northern Ireland

Parking fines: MLAs reject call for £90 penalty to be reduced

Parking sign
Image caption In 2012, Stormont MLAs voted for parking fines to be increased to their current level of £90

MLAs have voted against DUP calls for a significant reduction in the £90 mandatory parking fine during a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

They also rejected a plan to introduce free parking for the first 30 minutes.

The changes were proposed by four DUP MLAs, but Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said their motion was based on "seriously misguided logic".

He added that enforcing the 30-minute free parking system would be "extremely resource intensive".

'Massive reduction'

However, the assembly did pass a Sinn Féin amendment calling for a review of on-street parking arrangements which Mr Hazzard said he was "minded" to implement.

Image caption Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said most people settled fines early at the lower rate of £45 and this seemed to be the "appropriate amount"

"I'm certainly not opposed to a review of sorts - a strategic review of on-street car parking policy and the direction of travel," the minister told BBC News NI.

"What I was opposed to, with the DUP motion, was their pre-determined outcome of any such review, that we would set in stone before we began a massive reduction in penalty fines, I don't think that would be appropriate."

The rejected DUP motion was signed by ex-minister Edwin Poots, and his party colleagues William Humphrey, George Robinson and Alex Easton.

They said "greater flexibility" was needed in parking policy to encourage more trade in town and villages.

Parking enforcement in Northern Ireland was privatised in 2006.

'Appropriate amount'

Initially, fines were levied at £60, with the option of a 50% reduction if the bill was paid within a fortnight.

However, in 2012, Stormont MLAs voted for the penalty to be increased to its current level of £90 - or £45 if it is settled within 14 days.

The then Roads Minister Danny Kennedy said at the time that bigger fines would "act as a greater deterrent to those who choose not to park properly".

The current minister said "at least two thirds" of people who receive parking tickets pay within two weeks, and therefore pay at the lower rate of £45.

"I think, when we look across many states, this is an appropriate amount, "Mr Hazzard added.

Last month, a Belfast City Council committee voted to end the council's annual policy of offering free car parking in the city centre in the run-up to Christmas.

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